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Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study [#permalink]
04 Dec 2004, 07:43
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Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study of democracy in the United States, believed that a government that centralizes power in one individual or institution is dangerous to its citizens. Biographers claim that Tocqueville disliked centralized government because he blamed Napoleonâ€™s rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.
Which of the following, if true, would cast the most serious doubt on the biographersâ€™ claim?
(A) Although Napoleon was popularly blamed at the time for the terrible living conditions in Normandy, historians now know that bad harvests were really to blame for the poor economic conditions.
(B) Napoleon was notorious for refusing to share power with any of his political associates.
(C) Tocqueville said he knew that if his father had not suffered ill health, his family would have had a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.
(D) Although Tocqueville asserted that United States political life was democratic, the United States of the nineteenth century allowed political power to be concentrated in a few institutions.
(E) Tocqueville once wrote in a letter that, although his childhood was terribly impoverished, it was not different from the experience of his friends and neighbors in Normandy.
The argument here is that Tocqueville considers centralized form of govt. as dangerous and the biographers are trying to give a reason for this. (childhood poverty because of Napolean's rule).
So an answer choice which can prove that Tocqueville's dislike for centralized govt. is not because of poverty but something else... should be the right answer.
C-- clearly states that his father was not ill, his family had a steady income and a comfortable std. of living. So though this choice doesn't say what is the reason for dislike, but it clearly indicates.... that poverty is not the reason.
E was surely my shortlist too. C emphasises that Tocqueville has no personal grude against Napoleon and illustrates that his father's illness more than Napoleon is the cause of his personal misery.
However, I also think that E still furnishes the same point that the personal misery (eventhough here it is because of Napoleon) was not unique to him but several others in the country. In some way emphasising that Napoleon type of rule is not a good idea.
I think E strengthens the biographers conclusion that Tocqueville blamed Napoleonâ€™s rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy. If everybody in Normandy was impoverished, then it is possible to say it is the fault of the ruler, in this case Napolean...